Paula Mendoza: Big in Bogota
Three Colombian designers are gaining buzz in the U.S.
Made from roughly hammered gold set with hunks of raw stone, Paula Mendoza’s chokers, rings, and earrings can look like otherworldly creations; in fact, they are inspired by the precolonial treasures in Bogotá’s Museo del Oro, which were crafted by indigenous tribes before the Spanish conquest. Mendoza began her private-order business in Bogotá a decade ago, trained as a sculptor, and set up a showroom in New York in 2011. She now divides her time between the two cities, but her workshop remains in Colombia and is very much a family affair—her mother manages the place, and many of the staff have worked for Mendoza since she opened her doors. Her homeland is also the source of her signature materials, including intensely yellow 24-karat gold and startlingly green emeralds. “The color is amazing. I think they are the best in the world,” she says. “And I’m not saying that just because I’m Colombian!”